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Drawing in the Present Tense

Claire Gilman, Roger Malbert


A richly illustrated, up-to-the-minute overview of new approaches in drawing, set in the context of recent developments of other forms of contemporary art

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In an era of advanced technologies where image production has accelerated – potentially beyond the capacity of human attention – what values can be attributed to the slow, deliberate process of drawing by hand?

This book explores the variety of ways in which contemporary artists from around the world have come to approach drawing as the primary, sometimes the sole, element of their practice, and one which is autonomous: an end in itself rather than a means to an end in another, more substantial medium. The artworks featured here are not confined to traditional tools – one can also draw on a computer, tablet or smartphone, and examples of digital drawing are incorporated into the narrative not as a separate category but as one medium among many. Grouped thematically by specific approaches, including abstraction and figuration, nature and artifice, social observation and critique, with essays and feature spreads for each section, this selection of international artists of diverse backgrounds and experience includes not only recognizable names such as Michael Armitage, Camille Henrot, Robert Longo, Amy Sillman and Kara Walker, but also a host of emerging talents.

Beautifully presented in a visually appealing and tactile format with the feel of an artist’s portfolio, this is an inspiring overview of the best drawing practice today.


'It is when artists think aloud with line - when they draw, in other words - that their imaginations seem most nearly stripped naked. Here is a mass skinny dip of powerful minds from across the globe. Malbert and Gilman’s urgent selection demonstrates why in the 2020s the bare mark is becoming a crunch point for the whole visual art field'
Julian Bell

'[Describes] the mesmerising variety of drawing practices undertaken by ingenious contemporary artists as they engage directly with the difficult realities of our present age'
The Art Newspaper

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Flexibound

Size: 32.0 x 24.0 cm

Extent: 280 pp

Illustrations: 281

Publication date: 30 March 2023

ISBN: 9780500294932

Contents List

1. Staying in Touch / Crisis Aesthetics / Drawing as Self-Preservation
2. The Cut
3. Abstraction into Figuration / Figuration into Abstraction
4. Repetition and Rehearsal
5. Self and other
6. Fictions and Allegories
7. Places and Displacement
8. Socio-political

About the Author

Claire Gilman is Chief Curator of The Drawing Center, New York. She has written articles for Art Journal, CAA Reviews, Documents, Frieze and October, as well as authored numerous essays for art books and museum exhibitions. Roger Malbert is a curator and writer, formerly Head of Hayward Touring at the Southbank Centre, London 2000–2018. He has been a judge for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, and his writings have appeared in the Art Newspaper, Times Literary Supplement and Modern Painters. His book Drawing People: The Human Figure in Contemporary Art was published by Thames & Hudson in 2015.